The depositions conclude with the opposing attorney stating: ” I have no further questions at this time.” Barring new evidence that relates to “damages,” (e.g., a new surgery), the depositions are usually completed. The opposing attorney may ask for a further deposition based on new treatment that warrants further questioning, but for the most part the depositions are generally over at the one scheduled time.
The court reporter will transcribe the notes from the deposition and put them into a written form called a “transcript.” The “transcript” resembles a script for a movie or a play. It indicates what the questions were, who was asking the questions, who was responding to the questions, and any dialogue (or “colloquoy”) between the attorneys. There are no illustrations, rather everything that was verbalized is memorialized in the transcript. References to “exhibits” will allow those items to be referred to at trial (e.g., a photo will be marked with a sticker that indicates it is “Plaintiff’s Exhibit A”).
The client needs to review the transcripts for any errors, including errors in grammar and minor mistakes. The old rule under the CPLR was to not permit any changes that were “substantive” in nature. That meant that the witness would not say (for example) that a light was “green” when the transcript said “red.” That rule has changed and not a witness may make substantive changes, subject to interpretation and explanation by the witness.
An “Errata Sheet” is a form that allows the witness to make corrections. The witness must indicate the page and line of the correction, along with a short explanation when required. Then the witness must sign at the bottom and the signature is notarized by a Notary Public. (The latter will enable the transcript to be used in a court room as though it were live testimony. It has the same value as though a person were sitting in a court room).
The attorney for the witness must be sure to have the corrections made within 30 days. If not, the transcript is considered true and accurate in its entirety, regardless of whether it is, in fact, true and accurate testimony.
A copy of the signed and notarized transcript is mailed to the opposing counsel. The same process is reciprocated by opposing counsel regarding their witness.
In the next blog I will discuss the so-called “Independent Medical Examination” (of which none of the words in the phrase has a basis in truth).